People often ask about how a loving God can allow hell. Since tonight is supposedly “Devil’s Night” (though I much rather think of it as “The Baptized Stick a Finger in the Devil’s Eye Night”) I thought I’d share a little reflection on how I make sense of these two seemingly diametrically opposed concepts of a loving God and Eternal Punishment.
When the question of Hell comes up, I suggest to people that Hell is nothing more than the fire of God’s love licking at the hearts of those who can’t melt.
Well, nothing exists without God or outside of God. When we die, we will be utterly dependent upon God for our continued existence. Being utterly dependent upon the one being you have spent your life hating, ignoring, and rejecting and simultaneously having nowhere to run, no way to hide, and no way to reject at least a minimum of his presence, represents, to my mind the fires of Hell: a constant torment of being surrounded by the flames of an all consuming love you cannot recognize, cannot accommodate to, and cannot escape.
St. Augustine was once asked what God does to the souls in hell. His reply? “He loves them.” The above represents my attempt to make sense of his reply.